Clingy behavior can damage your relationship if your partner can’t handle it. It can also mean you lose your independence. You forget about your ability to stand on your own two feet and get out there and get things done.
What’s more, it can mean that your focus is entirely on the object of your affections and all the other relationships in your life start to suffer.
So, I think we can all agree that one or both partners being clingy and needy isn’t a positive thing for any relationship.
But changing that behavior, once it’s been learnt, is easier said than done.
I, for one, hold my hands up to sometimes behaving in ways that I know perfectly well are unhealthy for my relationship and for me. I know I shouldn’t be behaving that way even whilst I’m doing so, but I just can’t seem to help myself.
Luckily, however, there are plenty of tricks you can play on your brain to stop it from perpetuating negative behavior.
It’s all about developing new habits and default reactions. You have to keep yourself occupied and entertained enough to stop your thoughts from dwelling on your partner more than is healthy and natural.
If you’ve been told you’re excessively clingy or just know it deep down in your heart, here are a few tips for lowering your neediness levels to manageable, or even non-existent.
1. Admit it to yourself
If you’re still in denial about your clinginess, and reading this through a veil of skepticism, you’re never going to improve the situation, and your relationship will suffer.
The first step is to accept that you’re clingy and that it’s a problem. Once you’ve processed that information, you’ll be in a position to take steps to change your behavior.
2. Put yourself first
When all we can think about is the object of our affections, we often, unconsciously, put their needs ahead of ours.
We stop doing things that we genuinely want to do because we’re so desperate to spend time with our lover.
We don’t have the guts to tell the other person what we need from them, perhaps out of fear that they’ll say no.
I’m definitely not saying the universe should revolve around you, but I am saying that your universe shouldn’t revolve entirely around the other person.
Make sure that you’re not sacrificing your own needs for theirs, as in the long run that will only cause resentment on your side, and overwhelm on theirs.
3. Respect their boundaries
Some people love constant contact in the form of hugs, kisses, and caresses, but some people just don’t.
If your partner has told you, or their body language has made it clear that they’re not comfortable with the amount of physical affection you bestow on them, it’s important to be more aware of your behavior and respect their boundaries.
Remember, just because they aren’t as tactile as you, doesn’t mean they love you any less – they just have a different way of showing it.
4. Keep busy
If you’re prone to being clingy, then having a lot of time on your hands is only going to make the problem worse, especially if your partner is a lot busier than you are.
If you’re currently plan-free most nights a week and they’ve got a packed social calendar, it’s time to get busy.
Make sure you’ve got plans at least three evenings a week so you physically don’t have the time to sit around missing them or texting them constantly.
5. Call your friends
Have you ever had a friend ditch you for a relationship? Do you remember how bad that feels? Don’t be that person.
Consciously nurture the important friendships in your life and set aside time to dedicate to them, just as you do with your partner. Encourage your partner to do the same.
6. Spend time with your family
People often ditch their family as well as their friends when they meet someone new.
When was the last time you called your mom? Give her a call, and, if you want to, tell her about your relationship. You could even ask her for a few tips on how to be less needy. Moms know best.
Then, talk about other things. As much as it might seem like it sometimes, your relationship isn’t the most important thing going on in this world, and you need to remind yourself of that.
7. Work on your trust issues
For some people, clinginess is based on a lack of trust. Have a think about where those trust issues have come from, and what you can do to fix them… or at least improve on them.
Whilst a partner who you can rely on is a wonderful help for overcoming these issues, you’re the one that has to do the work, not them.
Have you ever found yourself going down a ‘what if’ black hole whilst you’re sitting at home and your partner is out for a drink with friends?
You start wondering, “what if he meets another girl?” or, “what if she decides she doesn’t want me anymore…?”
To be quite frank, anything could happen, and you can’t control the future, but there’s absolutely no point being miserable about hypothetical things that are very unlikely to happen.
You can worry about them if and when they do, but in the meantime, focus on and enjoy the good things in your relationship.
9. Start a new hobby
Join a netball team. Sign up for Zumba classes. Start a pottery class. Sign up for Spanish lessons. I find creative things particularly useful when I’m getting clingy in a relationship.
For the three hours I sit in my pottery class my phone is safely stored away and I don’t even think about checking it, so engrossed am I in what I’m doing with my hands (not to mention the mess it’d make).
10. Go on holiday
Holidays with your partner can be dreamy, but holidays with friends or, for that matter, holidays on your own are also fantastic.
They’re very different experiences, but you might find that you actually see more of a place when you’re not wrapped up in your partner.
Going away for a long weekend or even a few weeks is a fantastic way to get a bit of space from one another and get excited about seeing each other again.
Absence, as long as it’s not excessive, really does make the heart grow fonder.
If you know you’re being needy, but just can’t stop yourself, you need a mental workout to help you get your thoughts and behavior under control.
Think of meditation like the gym for your mind. If you want to make changes to the way you think, you’re going have to practice taking control.
There are many apps you can try or just find a guided meditation on YouTube. This will help clear your mind and put things in perspective, and give yourself the strength not to give in to clingy behavior.
12. Make plans and stick to them
Whatever you do, don’t drop any plans you’ve made with friends or family if your partner suggests doing something.
Tempting as it can be, dropping everything for your partner sends them the wrong message, and won’t impress the person you’re leaving high and dry.
13. Don’t rely on your partner for everything
The idea that our romantic partner should be our other half or our perfect match often encourages clinginess. We’re taught that our partner should ‘complete’ us, which encourages us to rely on them entirely.
But the truth is, our partner shouldn’t have to meet all our needs, and no one is ever going to be perfect in every way.
You might have certain interests in common, but you’ll probably have a lot of different ones too. And just because he or she doesn’t like going to art exhibitions and you do, doesn’t mean you have to stop going.
Maintain your network of family and friends to make sure you have different people to turn to for different reasons, and don’t expect your partner to be your everything.
14. Minimize phone time
The fact is, it’s far easier to be clingy these days. In the past, we couldn’t physically be in constant contact with one another. We’d say goodbye in the morning and come back together at night, full of stories of the day to share.
Or, we’d have to rely on phone calls from a landline or even wait for a letter… so we just had to get on with life and not spend our time worrying.
The advent of text messages and Whatsapp with those traitorous blue ticks has, unfortunately, sent clinginess levels through the roof.
Just because we can be in contact all day every day, doesn’t mean we should be.
And we definitely shouldn’t be wasting our time worrying when we don’t receive a speedy reply, or the tone of the reply sounds wrong.
Set rules for yourself that help you keep the time you spend on your phone to a minimum, and your stress levels should decrease along with your screen time.
15. Nurture your self-confidence
Some people are clingy, emotionally and physically, because they don’t see their own self-worth. They suffer from relationship anxiety and are convinced that their partner could up and leave at any minute.
Do things to boost your self-confidence. Practice self-care, whether that’s beautifying yourself on the outside or improving your mind.
16. Make alone time something you look forward to
Alone time should be something you relish, and take full advantage of.
Eat the food your partner isn’t a fan of, turn up the music, have a bath, light a few candles… do whatever it is you can’t normally do when they’re around, and enjoy yourself!
17. Talk about it, and work on it together
If you’ve recognized that you’re too clingy, chances are your partner is well aware of it.
Pick a good time, when you’re both well fed and well rested, with clear minds, to discuss where you think your neediness comes from and how you’re planning to work on it and overcome it.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.